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Become an NCIDQ Certified Interior Designer

Validate your expertise and promote your skills through NCIDQ Certification. Join more than 37,000 individuals of a select but growing community who have been certified through the NCIDQ Examination. These highly competent professionals have distinguished themselves by demonstrating a specific set of core interior design competencies, supported by verified work experience and a college degree. Earn this prestigious benchmark of interior design expertise and share in the benefits of certification.

  • Give clients and employers the added confidence they seek by enabling them to easily verify your knowledge, experience and skill with NCIDQ Certification.

  • Practice to the fullest extent of your capabilities wherever life’s opportunities take you. NCIDQ Certification is fully portable and accepted by all regulated jurisdictions throughout North America.

  • Gain wider industry visibility and recognition as an NCIDQ Certified designer.

  • Expand your network of expert, connected and passionate colleagues.

  • Receive first year professional membership for free in the American Society of Interior Designers, the largest association of your peers.

NCIDQ Candidate Handbook

The NCIDQ Candidate Handbook is the primary source of information for the NCIDQ Exam and provides individuals with everything they will need to know and understand while going through the certification process. Candidates applying for and planning to take the NCIDQ Exam, should read this handbook and familiarize themselves with the policies and procedures outlined.

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Why NCIDQ Certification Matters

For nearly 50 years, the strenuous requirements of the NCIDQ Examination have enabled clients and employers to have confidence in the caliber of work from certified designers. The exam covers the core competencies of interior design, and the test’s contents are continually updated to ensure they reflect the most current skills required to design secure, functional and innovative interior spaces.


The Council for Interior Design Qualification (CIDQ) administers the NCIDQ Exam. CIDQ, which is comprised of regulatory boards from across the United States and Canada, takes seriously its responsibility to protect the public. Accordingly, NCIDQ Certified interior designers must complete a minimum of six years of specialized education and work experience and pass the three-part NCIDQ Exam, which is based on CIDQ’s independent, comprehensive analysis of the profession and the daily practice of interior design in a range of settings. NCIDQ Certification meets legal and regulatory standards for the interior design profession as established by more than half of the states across the U.S. and the provinces in Canada.

The Professional Difference Between "Interior Designer" and "Interior Decorator"

Many people use the terms "interior design" and "interior decorating" interchangeably, but these professions differ in critical ways.

  • Interior design is the art and science of understanding people's behavior to create functional spaces within a building. Decoration is the furnishing or adorning of a space with fashionable or beautiful things. In short, interior designers may decorate, but decorators do not design.

  • Interior designers apply creative and technical solutions within a structure that are functional, attractive and beneficial to the occupants' quality of life and culture. Designs respond to and coordinate with the building shell and acknowledge the physical location and social context of the project. Designs must adhere to code and regulatory requirements and encourage the principles of environmental sustainability.​

  • The interior design process follows a systematic and coordinated methodology -- including research, analysis and integration of knowledge into the creative process — to satisfy the client’s needs and resources.

  • U.S. states and Canadian provinces have passed laws requiring interior designers to be licensed or registered and to document their formal education and training. Many states and provinces also specifically require all practicing interior designers to earn the NCIDQ Certification to demonstrate their experience and qualifications. By contrast, interior decorators require no formal training or licensure. 


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